05/04/2015  |  Celebrate Mother’s Day 2015 with Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

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There’s no doubt about it: Mom deserves the very best on her special day. So after you’ve showered her with flowers, cleaned the house, mowed the lawn and taken care of the laundry (yes, all of it!), bring her to Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant for a Mother’s Day meal to remember.

All weekend long, from Friday, May 8, through Sunday, May 10, each of Iron Hill’s 11 locations will be offering our special menu in honor of the mom in your life.

Whether she’s a seafood lover or more of a meat-and-potatoes kinda gal, Mom is sure to find something to love, from rich risotto packed with lobster, scallops, shrimp and more to char-grilled filet mignon with a buttermilk potato puree and braised Swiss chard on the side—and best of all, she won’t have to cook it! We’ve even got a sugary treat in store for the sweetest lady you know. Take a peek:

Roasted Carrot Soup

poblano, lime and crème fraiche

Lancaster County Asparagus Salad

whipped feta, cherry tomatoes, grilled lemon and basil oil

Sauteed Crab Cake

pistachio butter, grilled white peach relish and ginger-peach puree

Grilled Flatbread

roasted grape tomatoes, grilled zucchini, balsamic glazed onions, fresh herbs, feta and garlic oil

Char-Grilled Moroccan Lamb Meatballs

stewed plum tomatoes with golden raisins, salted Marcona almonds and mint

Seafood Risotto

butter-poached Maine lobster, sea scallops, rock shrimp, leeks, peas, carrots, fresh herbs and lobster-chardonnay cream sauce

Sauteed North Atlantic Halibut

local asparagus spears, thyme-roasted fingerling potatoes, braised oyster mushrooms and dijon mustard sauce

Char-Grilled Filet Mignon

buttermilk potato puree, braised Swiss chard with pancetta, port wine glazed cipollini onions and peppercorn demi-glace

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

strawberry-orange compote and whipped mascarpone

Make a reservation now at your local Iron Hill—heck, you can even bring in mom one day, your wife the next and grandma on Sunday. We’ve got you covered all weekend long.

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Michele Kornegay.

 

05/01/2015  |  31 Burgers to Try at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in May 2015

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Eat your way through the merry month of May with 31 delicious burgers at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. In honor of National Burger Month, we’ll be treating diners to a different burger every single day, starting on May 1 and ending on May 31.

“At Iron Hill, we love pairing food with our beers, but the ultimate pairing will always be a beer and a burger—which is why we look forward to celebrating National Burger Month each year,” says Director of Brewing Operations Mark Edelson. “We have a lot of fun trying to top the previous year’s selections, and this year is no exception, with old favorites joining brand-new-for-2015 burgers on our calendar.”

To make the month even more tempting and tasty, we’re encouraging you to return to your local Iron Hill often by giving diners a Burger Month Punch Card. For every five burgers you sample, you’ll earn a $15 reward to use on your next visit to Iron Hill.

Now comes the hard part—deciding which burgers you want to try! To whet your appetite, we’re including the full Burger Month menu below:

May 1 – The Alpine Burger, with fried onion rings, bacon, Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce

May 2 – The Bacon Lover’s Burger, with tomato-bacon jam, applewood smoked bacon, bacon aioli and smoked gouda cheese

May 3 – The Good Day, Sunshine Burger, with sunny-side egg, American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and maple mayo, served with potato tots

May 4 – The Tombstone Burger, with a fried onion stack, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce

May 5 – The Flaming Lips Burger, with sautéed poblano peppers, onions, mushrooms, pepper jack cheese and spicy chipotle mayo

May 6 – The Brasserie Burger, with gruyere cheese, red onion jam, applewood smoked bacon and dijonnaise

May 7 – The Banh-Mi Burger, with pickled vegetables, cucumber, sriracha mayo and cilantro

May 8 – The Voodoo Burger, with grilled peppers and onions, smoked gouda cheese and spicy voodoo barbecue sauce

May 9 – The Reuben Burger, with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing

May 10 – Mama’s Brunch Burger, with sunny-side egg, brie cheese, prosciutto and exotic mushroom relish, served with potato tots

May 11 – The Bourbon St. Burger, with andouille sausage, charred onion and pepper relish, smoked gouda cheese and paprika aioli

May 12 – The Au Poivre Burger, with cracked black peppercorns, bleu cheese, bacon jam, grilled red onions and port wine glaze

May 13 – The Asian Elvis Burger, with spicy peanut sauce, applewood smoked bacon, pickled vegetables, cucumber and sriracha mayonnaise

May 14 – The Godfather Burger, with capicola, roasted long hots, grilled onion, tomato and provolone cheese

May 15 – The French Quarter Burger, with spicy ham, olive-pepper relish, provolone cheese and roasted garlic mayo

May 16 – The Armed Forces Tribute Burger, with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce

May 17 – The Upscale Diner Burger, with sunny-side egg, Swiss cheese, herb-roasted exotic mushrooms, bacon and shallot-black pepper aioli, served with potato tots

May 18 – The Black Forest Burger, with roasted exotic mushrooms, Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce

May 19 – The Arc de Triomphe Burger, with bacon-onion jam, baby arugula and bleu cheese

May 20 – The Popper Burger, with pickled jalapeño, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon

May 21 – The Sweet Caroline Burger, with pulled pork, mustard sauce, griddled sweet onions and coleslaw

May 22 – The Smokehouse Burger, with applewood smoked bacon, smoked gouda cheese and barbecue onions

May 23 – The Grandpa Munster Burger, with applewood smoked bacon, griddled onions, muenster cheese and barbecue sauce

May 24 – The Black Sabbath Burger, with blackening spice, grilled hot sausage, fried egg, pepper jack cheese and caramelized onions, served with potato tots

May 25 – The Picnic Burger, with bacon, American cheese, bread and butter pickles, lettuce, tomato, special sauce and a side of potato salad

May 26 – The Poppy’s a Little Sloppy Burger, with brisket, gravy, muenster cheese and fried onion rings

May 27 – The Hot Mess Burger, with sweet potato fries, jalapeños, bacon, onion, bread and butter pickles, lettuce and thousand island dressing

May 28 – The Magic Goat Burger, with roasted exotic mushrooms, chevre and basil-pesto aioli

May 29 – The Gringo Burger, with poblano aioli, bacon, red onion jam and smoked gouda cheese

May 30The Big Cheesowski, with balsamic onions, chipotle ketchup, lettuce, tomato and white sharp cheddar and provolone cheeses

May 31The Hangover Burger, with fried egg, bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, sriracha aioli and crispy onion rings, served with potato tots

Made your picks? Great! Now all that’s left is to make a reservation. See you soon for some burger magic!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Michele Kornegay.

04/22/2015  |  Grab Your Tickets to 2015 Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers’ Festival

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We’re counting down to Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant’s biggest, beeriest event of the year—the Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers’ Festival. On Saturday, May 9, scores of craft beer lovers will be joining us at our Media location, from 1–5 p.m., to sip, sample and savor the finest handcrafted beers from more than two dozen local breweries.

What’s the best part about this beer festival? All proceeds from the event—which happens to be in its 15th year—benefit the Media Youth Center, a nonprofit organization that provides a safe environment for area youth to expand their minds, grow their bodies and have fun through an array of recreational and educational programs and partnerships with the community.

Check out the full list of participating breweries below:

Boxcar Brewing Co.

Denizens Brewing Co.

Evolution Craft Brewing Co.

Flying Fish Brewing Co.

Forest & Main

Free Will Brewing Co.

Lancaster Brewing Co.

Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant

McKenzie Brew House

Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co.

Philadelphia Brewing Co./Commonwealth Ciders

Pinocchio’s Beer Garden to Go

Port Jeff Brewing Co.

Round Guys Brewery

Saint Benjamin Brewing

Saucony Creek Brewing Co.

ShawneeCraft Brewing

Ship Bottom Brewery

Sly Fox Brewing Co.

Stewart’s Brewing Co.

Tröegs Brewing Co.

Victory Brewing Co.

Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

Yards Brewing Co.

 

Now eager to attend?

Purchase your tickets here.

Tickets are available at just $45 online; $50 at the door (if available), which includes festival admission, a tasting cup and the chance to sample beer from any of the breweries in attendance. Warning: tickets do typically sell-out each year, so plan accordingly. Make your hardest decision: which beer to try first! We’ll also have special perks for King of the Hill members, including a VIP tent and free food voucher.

Don’t delay—get your tickets online today. We’ll be looking for you on May 9! (Please note: This event is rain or shine.) And while you’re at the fest, get social with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BVCBF2015.

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Michele Kornegay.

 

04/22/2015  |  Lancaster Culinary Champ Claims Victory in 2015 Iron Hill Hourly Chef Competition

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On March 31, Iron Hill Lancaster’s chef Mick Kalata nabbed first place in our annual Iron Hill hourly chef competition.

The internal culinary throwdown, organized to pit Iron Hill’s hourly cooks against one another in a vigorous, old-fashioned food battle, first started in-house. Each of our 11 locations welcomed its kitchen staff members to prepare and present original recipes to a panel of judges, in the hopes of claiming dominance and nabbing a slot in the final culinary challenge. The chefs obliged, lining up throughout the month of February and into early March to flex their kitchen chops with creative compositions.

Kalata, no stranger to this annual cook-off, actually placed as a runner-up in 2014’s battle. But, back to 2015. Kalata, Newark’s Jason Thompson, Media’s Carlee Steele and Maple Shade’s William Hernandez scored our four finalist slots, journeying to Iron Hill Ardmore to compete for the title.

Judging the 2015 competition were Chris Meyer, regional chef of Two Stones Pub; Michelle Wilson, head chef of Iron Hill Phoenixville; and Amy Strauss, The Town Dish’s Editor in Chief.

Since the food is always the most important part of every cook-off, allow us to present the dishes that entered the judging ring:

Kalata’s soul-warming clambake was laden with chorizo chunks and swimming in a mighty chorizo broth. Accents like a warm sourdough bread basket, with a side of honey-rosemary butter and a taster of White Iron Wit, enhanced his entry.

Hernandez’s inventive adobe chicken presented a rollercoaster of flavors for the judges, arriving with a snappy combo of side dishes including a spicy ceviche salad and a Venezuelan-inspired, mint-infused pico de gallo.

Thompson’s vibrant and light scallop ceviche arrived as the ultimate bar bite for the warm-weather months ahead, paired with a side of ancho-glazed plantain chips. Using the chips to “scoop” up the ceviche was a repeat move for the judges—who also confessed that the dish’s sauce was something they’d love to taste and taste again.

Steele pulled the bold move of competing with a dessert—a well-orchestrated, deconstructed composition of White Iron Wit–poached pears with life-changing honey-whipped mascarpone, orange and nut-accented chutney and pools of spiced chocolate.

After each dish was elaborately tasted and the judges deliberated over who should be crowned 2015’s victor, Kalata’s clambake was the deserving winner. (The judges even asked for seconds—it was that good.) His reward? An enviable prize pack of hand-selected, high-end kitchen gear (KitchenAid mixer and Calphalon pans included).

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Amy Strauss.

04/22/2015  |  Iron Hill in County Lines Magazine: Growlers and Nitro and Cans and Casks! Oh My!

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Here at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, we’re proud to serve our handcrafted beers in many ways, chief among them on draft and in large-format bottles. But we also have our fair share of cask conditioned ales, beers poured on nitro, canned beers and, of course, our beloved growlers-to-go.

In his latest piece for County Lines Magazine, Director of Brewery Operations Mark Edelson breaks down these less common ways to enjoy your favorite craft beer and tells you exactly why you should give them a try.

Read all about it in Mark’s article for County Lines Magazine!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Michele Kornegay.

04/22/2015  |  Discover Iron Hill’s Real-Time Beer List

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Discovering just-tapped craft beer has become much easier at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. From the anticipation of scouting out new beers on tap to the enjoyment of sampling a fresh release to the very last drop, we’re helping you to embrace this just-tapped concept with our real-time Beers On Tap page.

Now, anytime you are eager to know what’s on tap at your favorite Iron Hill location, you’ll have the answer at your fingertips in mere seconds. The digitized, fresh beer facelift is your comprehensive guide to Iron Hill, telling you what’s currently pouring and, most importantly, allowing you to catch that can’t-miss sampling before it goes bone dry.

With our real-time beer launch well underway, we tapped some of our King of the Hill Rewards Club Members to sound off about their user experience, which beers they’ll constantly scout out and more.

Four King of the Hill Members Weigh in on the New System:

Colleen Perrin, Two-Year King of the Hill Member

West Chester native Colleen Perrin identifies Iron Hill as “the place” for her family. “The kids got to an age that we knew we could start going out more, and Iron Hill was the place,” she revealed. “We all love the food and my husband and I love the beer, too. It just made sense to join King of the Hill.”

Perrin, who typically checks the website before her family visits, is dubbing the Beers On Tap upgrade “fantastic,” explaining, “I like to see what is available and what I might want. If something isn’t there when I arrive, I am usually crestfallen. This new system gives me all I need to know, and I can count on it being up to date.”

What beer is she already scouting out? “I like several of Iron Hill’s seasonal beers, but they are always making something new. I’ll be watching to see what’s up, and no doubt will plan a trip back to taste it.”

Andie Bicho, Six-Year King of the Hill Member

Fellow West Chester native Andie Bicho believes that the new Beers On Tap upgrade will help build excitement for new releases. She reveals that visiting the page on the repeat will help her stay in the know and allow her to snag the latest, ultra-hyped release from her home store.

What can’t-miss beer is ranking high on her list? “Chuck Norris’ Beard [a spicy, high octane Belgian IPA] and any sour!,” she reveals, without skipping a beat.

Mike Walski, Eight-Year King of the Hill Member

Current Erdenheim resident Mike Walski, a long-time KOTH member since the original Mug Club in 2006, regularly hits our Chestnut Hill and Phoenixville locations. “I’ll go to Iron Hill regardless of what is on tap on any given day,” he reveals. “But, knowing something special or fun is being served would certainly give me something to look forward to drinking.”

He’s already addicted to scouting his preferred locations for favorites like Sweet Leaf IPA (“how about that, it’s now on tap in Chestnut Hill!,” he says). “I’ll also be watching for Berliner Weisse and Oktoberfest in Phoenixville.”

Stephen Lyfords, Five-Year King of the Hill Member

Like Walski, for New Jersey native Stephen Lyfords, the Beers On Tap option will help narrow down which of his favorite locations he should hit. “Now with Voorhees open, which is closer [to me], I split my time between there and Maple Shade because both locations have great staff and talented brewers,” he shared. “If I can see that a particular beer (or more) is on tap, that helps me decide which one to visit. Knowing which seasonal or special beers are on tap will help guide my choice of which location to visit, too.”

Want to stay in the draft beer know like these King of the Hill members? Put your clicking fingers to use and start bookmarking your favorite Iron Hill locations and our real-time Beers On Tap pages.

Each of our 10 Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurants in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey feature real-time Beers On Tap pages. Click here to scout out the current beer list at your favorite Iron Hill. Iron Hill specializes in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Make your online reservations after deciding which beers you have to try.

Content provided by Dish Works author Amy Strauss.

04/22/2015  |  Customer Engagement — a Top Priority of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

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by Kevin Finn, President, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Previously published in The New Brewer, a Journal of the Brewers Association

One of the things that I am most passionate about at Iron Hill is creating a culture that understands the importance of customer engagement. What does culture have to do with customer engagement? One of my favorite books on the subject, Human Sigma by John H. Fleming and Jim Asplund, distinguishes between customer satisfaction and emotionally satisfied customers. Customers who have an emotional bond to your product or service are much more likely to return than just satisfied customers because they actually have an emotional, not a rational, attachment. Simply defined, what is customer engagement? Repeated interactions between a customer and a brand that strengthen the emotional investment a customer has with that brand.

So why is customer engagement so important? Because earned media, including word-of-mouth (92%) and online reviews (70%), are still the most influential and trusted form of advertising, according to Neilson’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages study. On the flip side, why do consumers abandon a brand? The 2011 RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report found that 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience.

We incorporate customer engagement into our mission statement and values. It defines our success and allows us to measure how successful we are. So what is our mission? Inspire Loyalty in both our guests and in our staff. We believe that this simple mission will allow us to be successful in both the short term and the long term as we grow our business.

Our three core values are People, Products and Profits, which I often refer to as the Yin and Yang of Iron Hill. The concept talks about how opposite forces are often intertwined and complementary. Unlike a distribution brewery where employees have little or no interaction with their customers, a restaurant’s employees are an integral part of its brand. At Iron Hill, our core value of Products represents our brand and our core value of People represents our culture. If we have a successful brand and culture we will have a growing and profitable company.

Your brand is always an extremely important element of your business strategy. When we started Iron Hill almost 20 years ago, we wanted to create a brand that was different from most of the brewpubs at that time. We not only wanted great beer, but we also wanted fresh, from scratch food and exceptional service. We spent a great deal of time developing our brand so that it was more upscale than most of the brewpubs at that time. This helped us differentiate Iron Hill from our competitors. At the same time, we also understood that our staff was an integral part of our brand. We wanted to create a culture where they were proud of our brand and felt confident in serving our guests products that they felt passionate about.

Our number one marketing strategy at Iron Hill is delivering on our brand promise. A big part of that brand promise is customer service. We spend a great deal of time hiring, training and giving feedback to our employees because it is critical to our success. We then measure our success using our dashboard or balanced scorecard, which incorporates metrics for all three of our core values.

We try to create ways to make our staff brand ambassadors. One of our most successful ventures has been our annual GABF party and trip. Each year we recognize and send one member of the staff from each restaurant to the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado. They pour beer at our booth and get a real understanding of where our place is in the craft beer industry. They bring back their experiences and share them with other members of our staff. As we all know, this is an extraordinary craft beer experience and this allows them to share that experience not only with their co-workers but also with our guests, continuing our mission of inspiring loyalty.

We also have had great success building engagement using our King of the Hill loyalty or mug club program. The program accounts for almost 20% of our sales and allows us to engage our most frequent and loyal guests. First, the mugs help the staff quickly recognize members. Second, we have exclusive rewards for our members. Finally, we have permission to directly market to them via email. Of course our staff plays a vital role in this program. Besides delivering on our brand promise, they also take the time to engage our members and are also integral in selling memberships to non-members.

Customer feedback is also a big part of building engagement at Iron Hill. One of my favorite books on the subject is A Complaint Is a Gift: Recovering Customer Loyalty When Things Go Wrong by Janelle Barlow and Claus Moller. I believe that a customer who takes the time to complain is giving you an opportunity to fix that problem. If you are able to resolve the issue you actually have an opportunity to build long-term customer loyalty. Social media is playing a bigger role in our strategy. We use social media as not only a promotional tool, but also as a way to monitor customer feedback. In both cases we try to respond to guests to build their trust.

Customer engagement starts with ensuring that your staff understands and executes your brand promise. Your staff should be able to engage your guests in a fun way and impart their knowledge to your guests. They are your internal brand ambassadors, inspiring loyal customers! Those customers in turn become brand ambassadors who spread their passion for your brand, using word-of-mouth advertising and social media to their friends and the public. Looking back 20 years ago when we started Iron Hill, my main passion was to create interesting and hard-to-find hand-crafted beers. But today I’m passionate about the people because I know they are the key to our success.

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

04/21/2015  |  New Menu Additions to Enhance Your Iron Hill Experience

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Hungry for something different? As of Wednesday, April 22, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant’s menu will feature a host of brand-new items. Fresh and exciting menu additions include:

Appetizers

3 Cheese Plate and 5 Cheese Plate (pictured above): Indulge in your choice of Shropshire blue, Beemster XO, Servilleta, Weinkase Lagrein and triple cream brie cheeses, complemented by Marsala figs, Marcona almonds, red onion jam, pistachios, focaccia and water crackers.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops: Served with a side of horseradish dipping sauce and lemon.

Blue Crab Quesadilla: Packed with sweet corn, roasted red pepper and poblano rajas, Serrano peppers, cheddar, Monterey jack and cilantro aioli.

Salads

Char-Grilled Flank Steak Salad: Brimming with baby arugula, fresh mozzarella, grilled red and yellow peppers, red onion, roasted exotic mushrooms, Pecorino Romano and balsamic vinaigrette.

Entrees

Pan-Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops (pictured above): Paired with a bed of exotic mushroom risotto, asparagus spears with Pecorino Romano and roasted tomato vinaigrette

Hawaiian-Spiced Ahi Tuna: Served medium-rare with wasabi vinaigrette dressed greens, smashed Yukon gold potatoes and sweet Thai chile sauce.

Petite Filet Mignons: A hearty plateful with sweet corn and crab saute, smashed Yukon gold potatoes, sauteed spinach and Madeira wine sauce.

Dessert

Warm Chocolate Molten Cake: Decadently partnered with dulce de leche ice cream and fresh berries.

Just for Wednesday

Wednesday’s Meatloaf: If it’s Wednesday, it’s your lucky day! Enjoy this selection from our Brewhouse Favorites menu accompanied by smashed Yukon gold potatoes, buttery peas and carrots and house made gravy—only available on Wednesdays after 5 p.m.

Whether you’re craving something savory or sweet, just a nibble or a whole meal, these new menu additions are sure to satisfy. Ask your server about the perfect Iron Hill beer to pair with each one for the ultimate dining and drinking experience!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Michele Kornegay.

04/20/2015  |  In the Kitchen with Iron Hill President Kevin Finn

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Our CEO, President and Co-founder Kevin Finn recently threw on his chef’s apron to spend the night working in our Ardmore kitchen. But, this wasn’t the first time that Finn took on culinary pursuits for Iron Hill. And, it won’t be his last.

We tap “Chief” below to reveal what sort of dishes he was cooking up—literally—on a recent Thursday night, how his roles have changed through the years at Iron Hill, and if he’ll be cooking again—very soon.

IHB Blog: You recently accepted Ardmore Head Chef Tim Andrews’ challenge to go behind the line and cook for a night in our kitchen. Can you share your experiences?

Kevin Finn: I’m not sure Tim “challenged” me to cook; he is smarter than that! I was really just an extra set of hands and had two great guys, Terrance and Justin, who showed me the ropes. It was a lot of fun just seeing what they do.

There was no way I was going to keep up with them on a busy Thursday night, but I tried to be helpful and they were very gracious. I made fish and chips, French fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings and helped plate the burgers. It was fun making fish and chips; you have to get the batter just right and drop it in the fryer just right so it does not stick.

This wasn’t your first time cooking on the line—correct? When we first opened Newark, what sort of work responsibilities did you have?

When we opened in Newark, my initial thought was we would be mildly successful, I’d make beer a few times a week and then go on to do something else. Of course, we were wildly successful, particularly on the culinary side, doing twice the food sales that we had anticipated in our first year. But I really can’t take any credit for that. My business partner, Kevin Davies, designed the menu along with our chef Dan Bethard. They both continue to do that to this day.

Once we opened, I quickly became a restaurant manager (and left the brewing to my second business partner, Mark Edelson, and my brother Brian). I spent the first year or so as a manager along with other duties (mostly marketing but also site selection, accounting and finance). Like any new business owner, we all spent a lot more than 40 hours a week in our new jobs. But I never really spent much time in the kitchen those first couple of years. It wasn’t until after we opened our third store in Media (in 2000) that I offered to work in the kitchen—mostly for fun and to show the kitchen employees I respected them for what they did. I did this off and on for a couple years, but it had been a long while.

And, of them all, which role did you enjoy the most?

Over the years, I have tried to spend one day a week in the restaurant. It used to be that I would actually function as a manager on the floor. But to be honest, I probably was not the best. The joke when I worked was that everyone should “batten down the hatches” because I usually gravitated to the host stand and I had a reputation for seating the dining room too fast and overloading (weeding) the kitchen. They eventually barred me from controlling the seating of the restaurants and now I usually talk to guests and help bus tables. I have no problems getting my hands dirty and I really enjoy working with the staff and I think they appreciate it.

So circling back, I’m not nearly as comfortable in the kitchen and when I mentioned to chef Tim about my past experiences in the kitchen, he asked me to do it in Ardmore. So I accepted, not really thinking it was a big deal. Of course, about a dozen managers from around the company came out to cheer me on!

How does being able to fill in at any role of our company make you a stronger restaurant owner?

Wow, there’s no way I could fill in every role—there are many talented people at Iron Hill and they do a great job. I think what is valuable is understanding what they do and what are some of the challenges both short term and long term. You often think of restaurant people turning over, but that often is not the case, particularly in the kitchen. Terrance started in our Media restaurant almost six years ago and Justin has been with us five years this fall. I was extremely impressed by their knowledge and skills and most importantly by how much they care about our products.

How has the food menu evolved at Iron Hill since we opened our first restaurant?

We change the menu twice a year to accommodate changes in seasonal ingredients, but we have made two major changes over the years. Prior to opening our fourth restaurant in Wilmington, all of the menus were slightly different. We decided with the opening in Wilmington that it made sense to have just one menu. The biggest challenge was consistency of our products and it made sense to go to one menu so we could have better control of all our products.

The second big change was when we expanded our menu from about 50 items to the current 80 or more items. We wanted to offer a better breadth of items for our guests.

Can we expect to catch you on the line again soon?


Yes, I plan on working in Ardmore for the next couple Thursdays, and many of the general managers from other stores are requesting that I work in their kitchens as well. I hope to really learn the station in Ardmore and then maybe stop in for a shift in the other restaurants. It should be fun!

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Amy Strauss.

04/10/2015  |  Lust After Iron Hill’s New Oyster Stout

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On Friday, April 10, starting at 5 p.m., our Chestnut Hill head brewer Chris LaPierre will release his first-ever Oyster Stout, cheekily titled Lust. That’s right—he’s concocted a rich English stout that’s been brewed with New Jersey oyster shells.

What’s the full scoop on this exclusive tapping, and what other funky ingredients has he incorporated into his beers over the course of his 12 years with Iron Hill? Brewer “Lappy” uncovers it all below.

Iron Hill Blog: Your Oyster Stout, Lust, hits the taps this Friday. Is this your first time brewing an oyster-infused beer? What makes your version of this style unique?

Chris LaPierre: It is the first time I’ve brewed this beer. This beer was brewed as part of the 7 Deadly Sins beer dinner we did recently in Chestnut Hill. Chef Jared Cannon and I were looking for a beer for the Lust course and something with an aphrodisiac ingredient made sense.

After 17 years of brewing, there’s not much I haven’t brewed, so any time I get an idea for a new style I jump on it. The oysters were Cape May Salt oysters. We wanted to keep it as local as possible.

How does brewing with oysters influence the overall stout? What sort of flavor(s)/aroma(s) do they contribute to the final product?

A lot of people expect to taste oysters, but that’s not really what you get. We actually only used the shells (we ate the oysters!). What we’re looking for is a minerally character from the shells similar to the character you get from brewing with very hard water, as they do in England. The other thing that makes it an “oyster” stout is that it goes great with oysters. The roast and overall body of this beer can stand up to the strong seafood character and briny notes that oysters offer.

You’re no stranger to brewing with interesting, locally sourced ingredients, such as wildflower honey and in-season blueberries. What’s the strangest additive you’ve ever thrown into your beers?

Honestly I’m pretty traditional. I’ve never gone looking for the ingredients no one’s thought to use before. I did brew a beer with fresh kumquats that I was very happy with. The mild bitterness and bright fruity aromas went really nicely with the fruity character from the Belgian yeast we used.

You’re the Iron Hill king of busting out funky sour beers (hello, F.red). Why do you love incorporating wild bacterias into your beers? Of all the funky strains, what is your absolute favorite to work with?

One of the reasons I think beer pairs much better with food than wine is the varieties of flavors you find in beer. When you think about the four flavors the tongue experiences, wine can offer two—sweetness and sourness. Beer has always offered at least three—sweet, sour, and bitter—and with the recent revival of the Gose style, which incorporates salt, it now offers all four. There are plenty of sweet and bitter beers out there, but I think it’s important to cover the whole palate.

My favorite culture to work with is the classic Roeselare blend developed by the Rodenbach Brewery. “Brett” beers are all the rage these days. I like a little Brett, but too much is too much. I prefer the balance and relatively clean sourness the Roeselare offers over the super phenolic and funky characters a lot of Brett strains offer.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane: to date, what’s been your favorite beer to brew with Iron Hill?

I really enjoy brewing dry, yeast-driven Belgians. In fact, my only two gold medal winners (The Cannibal and Saison) can be described that way. I probably take the most pride in my German lagers though. I really appreciate their balance and drinkability and I take pride in them because they’re much harder to brew than Belgians, Stouts or IPAs. There’s much less margin for error.

Last question: how long have you been brewing with the Iron Hill family? In those years, roughly how many beers have you made?

I’ve been with Iron Hill for a little over 12 years now. I’d have to look at our style library and make a list to tell you how many different styles I’ve made. I know I’ve brewed over 1,000 batches since I’ve been with the company, but those of course are not unique styles. I’m confident in saying I’ve brewed well over 100 styles though.

Join brewer Chris for his Lust beer release on Friday, April 10, from 5–8 p.m. at our Chestnut Hill location. King of the Hill Rewards Club members will score a complimentary oyster on half shell small bite with their purchase of Lust.

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Amy Strauss.